This may seem trivial so I will try to ask it in the most mature way possible. I was wondering keeping certain elements in mind such as money, and durability which is the more beneficial to use a original Ticonderoga # 2 pencil or a Mechanical one. if a mechanical one which is the best thickness of lead to use, or a preferred one. It's not that I am picky I am just trying to widen the opinions. 

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I much prefer a mechanical pencil that holds 0.55mm lead. I don't know why but the 0.7mm lead feels like I am writing with a tree branch; it is just too fat for writing purposes. About 10 years ago I purchased a pack of two mechanical pencils and I still have one. I could probably find the other if I really did some cleaning and looked for it. Cost wise mechanical is cheaper if you can keep up with the pencils for many years. Mechanical always stays the same size unlike wood pencils that start out too long and then eventually get to just the right length for comfortable writing and then become too short. I also prefer a mechanical pencil because you can easily get more lead with the click of a button. If you are in a meeting and your lead breaks on a wooden pencil you are stuck without a writing utensil.

I'm not anti wooden pencils as they are great if you have a back up or if you are drawing. Filling out a scantron answer sheet is terrible when you only have a mechanical pencil. I keep a golf pencil in my get home bag because it is small and the angle at which they are sharpened they tend to break a lot less often.

What will you be doing with the pencil? Are you a student or are you working?

I am a student majoring in Electrical Engineering. I won't be working until next summer. 

For math I much prefer a mechanical pencil because I can write much smaller and still be able to go back and read what I wrote. Maybe you are better than I am and you don't have to go back over your problems to find where you made a mistake. I had a calculus professor who almost required us to purchase a polymer eraser. Before that my biggest complaint was running out of eraser on the end of a pencil. The polymer eraser erases better and saves the eraser on your pencil.

It is all personal preference. You might find that the 0.55mm is too fine for you and you prefer the 0.77mm.

I use a drafting lead holder (using a 2mm lead) - nice since it doesn't break as easily as .5mm mechanicals, and can be sharpened (minimizing the "tree branch" feel. 

As with any mechanical you have the choice of lead softness as well, which is nice. 

Lead softness?

One of the numbers related to lead (like No. 2) is not the size, but how hard the lead is. Lead is on a scale from hard (H) to soft (B) like so:

(harder) H9, H8, ---> H2, H, HB (sometimes also labeled F), B, B2(no. 2), B3, ----> B8, B9 (softer)

An H level lead holds a finer point, but doesn't mark as darkly - a B lead will require more sharpening, but marks darker. A sketch artist might use an H4 for a fine detail, then do shadows and shading with a B6... etc. 

Engineers and draftsmen usually opt for the lower H levels (H4-H2) to give fine details and precise marks, but still be readable. H9 is nearly like working with a sharpened piece of metal. 

They recommend a Number 2 for scantrons because it is a reasonable balance between the density needed for the scanner to work, and holding a point. 

So I can swap different leads into my drafting holder, depending on what I need to do.

So what about .7 HB which is what I have now in my mechanical pencil. When I was working we had .9 which a lot of the other engineers used.

.7mm wide, HB (middle point between soft and hard) - I tend not to like .7 leads, but HB is a useful hardness. 

I have never seen a .9, interesting. 

I used a .9 in a drafting lead holder during drafting/mechanical drawing classes.  It's pretty much a specialty item.

You have to play with lead types also.

H is a soft lead.  I like the 3mm h lead in a mechanical pencil.  I also end up buying drafting pencils that have long shaft tip and a good grip.  

You have allot more options with mechanical.  But if you are serous you need to try the sizes .3, .5, &.7 with a few different lead softness types.  

Other way around, H is hard lead. See the scale I provided above for Nathan. 

Right sorry about that.

I went with a .3 lead with a soft level.  That provided the balance of sharpness and darkness.


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